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College football roundtable: Most intriguing conference game

We continue our national roundtable series by looking at some of the premier conference games for the 2016 season. Chances are these games could determine conference champions and, thus, could be strong résumé-builders for the College Football Playoff. Today the college football reporters look at the most intriguing conference game in their respective leagues.

ACC: Florida State vs. Clemson

Perhaps no conference has an easier answer to this question than the ACC. It's not enough that either Clemson or Florida State has won every ACC title since 2011, or that the winner of this game in each of the past three seasons has gone on to play in either the BCS title game or the College Football Playoff. What's even more intriguing this time is that the Oct. 29 matchup features two playoff front-runners, as both teams are ranked in the top four of Mark Schlabach's Way Too Early Top 25. Moreover, the visiting team in this matchup, Clemson, is ranked higher than the home team, FSU. With both teams bringing back Heisman Trophy candidates in Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook, the latest edition of Clemson-FSU should have a buildup like no other game in the ACC. -- Matt Fortuna

Big Ten: Michigan vs. Ohio State

In the Big Ten it's -- surprise! -- Michigan at Ohio State. Sure, that seems stupefyingly obvious. But this game hasn't had that much importance in recent years, mostly because the Wolverines haven't been serious title contenders. The Michigan State-Ohio State game instead has become the de facto Big Ten championship game. Yet, with apologies to the Spartans, The Game should regain its significance in 2016. Michigan is being picked by many as the preseason league favorite, thanks to its abundance of returning starters, while Ohio State is something of a mystery after losing so much of its roster to the NFL. Have the Wolverines, who are 1-11 in their last 12 games against the Buckeyes, finally narrowed the gap in this rivalry? Can they win in Columbus for the first time since 2000? Jim Harbaugh versus Urban Meyer in a season finale with a potential division title and playoff implications should be something to see. -- Brian Bennett

Big 12: Oklahoma vs. TCU

The safest answer might be Bedlam on Dec. 3. The Big 12 title could be on the line when Oklahoma State travels to Norman. The problem is, the Pokes face such a brutal road schedule this year -- including trips to Baylor, Kansas State and TCU -- that it's hard to know if they'll still be firmly in the race at the end. We do know the Horned Frogs get to stay close to home all season long. They'll play 10 of their 12 games inside the state of Texas. And every ballgame between Oklahoma and TCU has been a close one since the Frogs joined the Big 12. Their Oct. 1 showdown in Fort Worth is definitely worth circling on the calendar. If the Sooners manage to stand 4-0 after this game, they'd likely have three top-25 wins on their résumé and would deserve to be ranked No. 1. -- Max Olson

Pac-12: Stanford vs. Oregon

For all of the great rivalries in the Pac-12 -- be it for Apples, Territory or simply a Big Game -- one of the best to emerge in recent years is the annual Oregon-Stanford showdown. Since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011, only two teams have won the league -- Oregon and Stanford. The Ducks won it in 2011 and 2014. Stanford won the rest. Interestingly enough, last season was the first time since expansion that the winner of the Stanford-Oregon game (the Ducks) didn't win the Pac-12. (The Cardinal did.) But the Ducks blocked Stanford's perfect league season and knocked them out of the playoff picture -- just as Stanford ruined Oregon's shot at an undefeated 2012 season. This game always features a contrast of football philosophies. The Ducks want to spread out the field and play fast, time of possession be damned. Stanford, on the other hand, uses splits that would cut off a line of ants while grinding down the clock. With no clear favorite yet in the Pac-12 South to challenge them, there's a good chance one of these two teams will be the league champion ... again. -- Kevin Gemmell

SEC: Ole Miss vs. Alabama

Has this replaced Alabama-LSU as the best heavyweight bout in the SEC? Maybe not yet, but give it some time. Ole Miss had the Tide's number the last two seasons, representing the stiffest competition to the Nick Saban dynasty. This year should be a similarly heated battle despite the laundry list of former players now in NFL minicamps. Alabama's defense is loaded once again thanks to the return of safety Eddie Jackson and defensive ends Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams. Against Chad Kelly, who is clearly the top returning quarterback in the conference, expect fireworks. Laquon Treadwell may be gone at receiver, but tight end Evan Engram and wide receivers Damore'ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyejo form as good a trifecta of pass-catchers as you could hope for. What's more, there's the added level of intrigue about whether star Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson will suit up. Robinson has a felony arrest hanging over his head that could lead to a suspension, putting the Week 4 conference tilt in doubt. -- Alex Scarborough